A Black Hole at the Bullseye

The rings in this image surround a black hole that is part of a binary system called V404 Cygni. Located about 7,800 light years away from Earth, the black hole is sucking material away from a companion star. The material in the rings glows in x-rays, so astronomers refer to such systems as “x-ray binaries.” The x-ray images of the rings were captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. (I designed some of the assemblies in the power and thermal control systems for one of the instruments on Swift.)

Image Credits
X-ray: NASA / CXC / U.Wisc-Madison / S. Heinz et al.
Optical / IR: Pan-STARR

X-ray Binary Circinus X-1

cirx1 smallThe youngest member of an important class of objects has been found using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Australia Compact Telescope Array. A composite image shows the X-rays in blue and radio emission in purple, which have been overlaid on an optical field of view from the Digitized Sky Survey. This discovery allows scientists to study a critical phase after a supernova and the birth of a neutron star.

Image Credit: NASA